I may have overdid it on the sandwiches…

Now that I write a sandwich report every month, I might be perhaps going a li’l cray-cray on the sandwich consumption. Everywhere I go, no matter how fancy or mundane the establishment, I’m like, “Gotta getta sandwich.” Cúrate: Gotta getta sandwich. Food truck at Foundy: Gotta getta sandwich. Pete’s Pies, where I frickin’ love the pies, and have been holding out for a long time to try the bangers and mash, one of my all-time fave dishes ever… but… you guessed it: I passed on pie, and begged off bangers, opting instead to getta fucking sandwich. Or as they call ’em in England, a “Buttie.”

Scotch Brown Buttie. – photo by Stu Helm

At Pete’s they have four kinds of butties: Brit Dog, Wessex Chicken, English Reuben, and Scotch Brown. When it came time to choose one, I deferred to my server, Lucy, who was quite charming, and polite, and even remembered me from when we both worked super-briefly together at the awesome, though ill-fated, Barleycorn Pub. We joked that she seems to gravitate toward British eateries for employment, and when she confessed to having a personal affinity for the food, then recommended the Scotch Brown as her favorite buttie on the menu, I listened with earnest, and ordered it for myself. I sure was glad that I did!

Now that buttie is just lamby enough to be awesome. – photo by Stu Helm

The Scotch Brown buttie at Pete’s Pies is comprised of roasted lamb, sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions, Swiss cheese, and gravy, on City Bakery ciabatta bread, which is soft, yet substantial, and somewhat crusty on the outside. Not having any experience with the butties in Britain, I’m gonna have to say that, to me, this bread worked well with the concept. Pete is actually from Britain, so I trust that he’s not gonna get all weird on the bread, but that he’ll give us some basic British buttie style bread.

The lamb was cooked very very nicely, and was tender as all get out. I’m not even the biggest fan of lamb, and I thought this lamb was truly excellent! Usually, when I eat lamb, my number one complaint is, “too lamby.”

I know I’m an idiot, but what can I say?

There’s a certain lamby-ka-blammy IN YO FACE flavor that lamb can sometimes have that is just not to my liking. The lamb on this beautiful buttie, however, was not overtly lamby in the least, but was jehhhst subtly so, to the point where I was like, “Yeah, that’s lamb alright… and I fucking love it!” It was a pure delight to eat, and based on how expertly cooked the lamb on this buttie was, I would totally eat lamb from Pete’s Pies in any form Pete and his crew wish to serve it to me. Likewise, the mushrooms, onions, cheese, and gravy on this buttie were all one hundred percent on the money. If I had one complaint, it would be that I wanted more gravy. Either on the buttie itself, or even a little ramekin of it would have been nice. But that’s just me! I always think a ramekin of gravy would be nice. In any situation.

Anyhoodles… Yeah, Man, the Scotch Brown Buttie at Pete’s Pies was awesome and you can bet your arse I’m gonna try the rest of the butties soon! I just finished season 2 of The Last Kingdom, so I’m going for the Wessex Chicken next.

“Destiny is all!”

Next on my trip around the World of Sandwiches, I went to France… in my mind… while eating at Creperie Bouchon, where I indulged myself in a Croque Monsieur, which is a traditional toasted French sandwich with ham, Gruyere cheese, and béchamel sauce (aka white sauce). At Creperie Bouchon they toast their croque monsieur sandwich after assembling it, with cheese on top, so it’s really hot, and melty, and bubbly, and browned-up, and awesome. It’s a fork and knifer.

Mon Dieu! Now that’s a croque monsieur! – photo bu Stu Helm

It was really good and I ate every single bite of it, but again, I would have liked a little more “gravy” or in this case white sauce. Just a small puddle on the plate, or in a cute little ramekin, would have elevated this sandwich to the whole next level in my opinion, from something that’s pretty good and I might try again, to something fan-fuckin’-tastic that I would probably crave again and again. The power of extra sauce can not be underestimated in any scenario. I feel as though things like sauce and gravy are luxuriant without actually being luxurious, in terms of cost. I mean, it’s usually made out of flour, and fat drippin’s ‘n’ such, right?

So , sauce me, I say!

The bread, cheese, ham, and sauce were all great — just a tad dry — and of course the pommes frittes (AKA French fries) at Creperie Bouchon are amazing, and might just be the best in town. #bestofasheville #aintnojokeyo They are cut shoe-string thin, twice-fried in the European style, then sprinkled with herbs de provence, and served with a mayonnaise-based dippin’ sauce. I’ve actually been to Paris — twice’t even! — and I’m here to tell y’all, that these are some tres authentique pommes frittes, and I think it’s pretty cool that you can get ’em right here in Asheville, WNC.

C’est Fritte-tastique! – photo by Stu Helm

After my visit to France on Lexington Ave, I traveled to the Middle East, in the Grove Arcade, where I went back for a sandwich, my second one, from Baba Nahm! You may recall that I featured a falafel sandwich from Baba Nahm as my Eat of the Week a while back [ LINK ], and that I loved it. So, I’m happy to report to you all that I returned to Baba Nahm, and tried the chicken shwarma sandwich, and it was equally awesome for all the same reasons that the falafel was awesome.

Shwarma-larma-ding-dong! – photo by Stu Helm

I don’t have much more to add about this sandwich. Please read the Eat of the Week and substitute the word “falafel” with “chicken shwarma” wherever you see it, because this sandwich was basically exactly the same, and exactly as yummy as that falafel sandwich, and it shares all of the following characteristics with it: It was large, fresh, tasty, healthy, well made, pretty to look at, and filling to eat! Get the picture? Go get a Baba Nahm sandwich. I endorse at least two of them so far.

Next I took a walk to Spain! Well, Dawn and I walked to Cúrate, which is practically like being in Spain, and — I wasn’t kidding — I ordered a sandwich. Or a bocadillo, as they say in merry old Spain… because…

…it’s the Spanish word for sandwich.

The bocadillos on the menu at Cúrate come in three basic jams: Atun y Piparra (tuna and peppers), Lomo Ibérico con Queso (Iberian loin with cheese), and Bocata de Calamares (“sandwich from squids” said Google translate). I went straight for the pork loin, like the good Southern eater that I’m slowly becoming, and once again, am I ever glad that I did! This sandwich is crave-worthy, my friends… which shouldn’t surprise me or you or anyone else, because Chef Katie Button and crew made a sandwich… and that’s not rocket science, so no duh… it was frickin’ awsome.

I wanted to chew on the plate just because it was touching the sandwich. – photo by Stu Helm

The bread that Cúrate uses for their bocadillos is something special, that they order from somewhere special, that Chef Katie told me about once a couple of years ago, but I totally forgot, forgive me. Please go ask them, they will surely tell you. What makes it special to me is the way it toasts-up really crispy and light and almost like the world’s biggest, airiest English muffin. It’s fucking awesome bread in my opinion. The contents of the lomo sandwiches at Cúrate are as follows: Warm and delicious Fermín Ibérico pork loin, cooked perfectly of course; Smoked Ibérico pork belly, which added a nice, comforting, fatty flavor and soaked into the bread so that it was both crispy and juicy at the same time; Manchego cheese, which provided the sharpness needed to counteract the fat of the pork belly, and finally; crispy shallots, & tomato.

I wanted to crawl inside this sandwich and live there forever. – photo by Stu Helm

Being on the smallish side, and completely a la carte, this delicate, yet decadent little bocadillo is not exactly a belly-buster, or a bang-for-your-buck bargain, if you know what I mean, so don’t sidle-up to the bar at Cúrate thinking that you’re gonna be fit-to-pop at the end of this li’l guy. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be ready for three more!

Nom nom nom!

On the entire other end of the spectrum was the massive, mui gordo torta that I got from the Vitamina T Mexican food truck that was parked at the Foundy Skate Park / Wedge Brewery last week. I was there for an Art party, but of course, I was really there to eat things. (Shhhh… don’t tell Dawn and my Art friends!) This torta — which is yet another Spanish word for a sandwich — was made with cochinita pibil, which is a traditional Mexican slow-roasted pork dish from the Yucatán Península. The meat was very well cooked, it was tender, and stringy, and juicy, like slow cooked pork oughtta be. It was also smoky, and spicy, and greasy, aaand that’s about it!

What it lacked in beauty, it made up for in size. – photo by Stu Helm

This torta was pretty fucking basic, Yo. Even Fred Flintstonesque in its simplicity, size, and bright, bold, but limited use of the primary and secondary color wheel. There was literally nothing on this sandwich but pork, bright orange grease, and hot-pink pickled onions, heaped unceremoniously inside of the giant slab of brontosaurus bread. You think I’m kidding? I’m totally not kidding…

It’s colorful, I’ll give it that! – photo by Stu Helm

I’m also not gonna tell you this was the most sophisticated sandwich I ever ate, or my favorite entry in this month’s sandwich report, but it did do the trick, filling me up with plenty of tasty carbs, protein, and vegetable matter, so that I could commence to makin’ some Art!

This torta was worth the price I paid for it, and the young man who served it to me was a nice person, who also gave me a sample of a very special pumpkin seed salsa, which was so good, and unique, and surprising that I almost picked it as my Eat of the Week this week. (It got nudged out by a chocolate cake.) This strange and wonderful salsa was the color of ground-up plastic army men, but it was frickin’ delish! Mild, slightly toasty, and a wee bit earthy, I jazzed a portion of it up with a little house-made habanero sauce, and BOOM. Mild or spicy it was the bomb. I recommend it highly, and the chips it came with were great too. Here’s a picture…

This salsa was something totally new & different for me, and now I love it! – photo by Stu Helm

Staying in the region of Mexico… sorta… I recently went to Bomba, where I thoroughly enjoyed the Bomba Breakfast Sandwich! I had the pleasure of sharing a table with the ever-gracious, and easy-to-chat-with co-owner of Bomba, and wife of Chef Hector Diaz, Aimee Diaz, whom I like very much. We run into each other fairly often downtown, and she recently invited me to try their breakfast menu. Yeah, no, I’m not turning that invite down. Ever. I lerv breakfast, and there are definitely worse things in this world than sitting across the table from Aimee Diaz. I ate stuff… and I learned stuff…

DID YOU KNOW?
Bomba is one of the few places downtown that serves breakfast all-day!

Think what you will of Hector himself, his food kicks some serious ass, plus he and Aimee have employed a full-time cook named Erika Sorto at Bomba for 5 years, and in my opinion, Erika is one of the hidden gems of culinary talent in this town. She’s been at Bomba since day one, cranking out Hector’s food in one of the smallest kitchens in town, always with either a very serious look on her face while cooking, or the most genuine smile in Pack Square when you catch her eye to say howdy. I’m a fan of Erika, and of the sandwich she made for me. For one thing… just look at this thing…

Creative, colorful, complex, and completely delicious! – photo by Stu Helm

Holy Shit. Although it is but a humble breakfast sandwich, the care that Erika took in preparation and presentation was impeccable. The plating was fun, colorful, artistic, and had a certain flare that I found to be refreshing and even kind of uplifting in a way. It looked good, and that made me feel good, even before I took a bite. As usual at Bomba, the portion-size of this meal was insanely generous, and I had to cut this sandwich into 1/4’s just to get a handle on it. It came with a side salad that was very fresh, nicely tossed, and had fried plantains on top, that added the perfect starchy counterbalance to the leafy greens and crisp cucumbers beneath. The sandwich itself was a thing of beauty…

Open wide! Wiiiiider!!! – photo by Stu Helm

Top-to-bottom, the Bomba Breakfast Sandwich is constructed of a slice of house made Brioche, lemon-mayo, ham, a fried egg, tomato, avocado, Gruyere cheese, and another slice of brioche. It was super excellent, and as you can well imagine from the words and pictures that I have used here, it was filling AF. I ate as much of this beast as I could manage, and saved the rest for the next day, when I reheated it in the toaster oven ( #killyourmicrowave ), and it tasted really good all over again!

I think Bomba is slightly overlooked by Asheville — and granted, some of that might be Hector’s reputation — but if you’re looking for a killer sandwich made by a very kick-ass, dedicated, reliable, friendly, talented, yet very modest, female cook — who shows up to work on time every day, according to Aimee! — go give Erika some love, and try this breakfast sandwich, as well as her other delicious offerings!

My face and this sandwich had the same expression. GAH! – photo by Stu Helm

And thus concludes my trip around the world…

…but not my sandwich report! Whoop whoop! As happens so often these days, I landed right back in my comfort zone, sitting at a table in 67 Biltmore Downtown Eatery + Catering, devouring two more of their fantastic sandwiches. You may have detected that I have a real thing for 67 these days, and it’s totally true, I admit it. I’m loving everyfuckingthing they do lately and I basically can’t get enough. I wake up in the morning thinking about their biscuits and gravy for one thing [ LINK ], and now I’m hooked on their Chipotle Turkey Club sandwich. It’s everything a sandwich should be and more.

“Hi, I’m a perfect sandwich. Who the fuck are you?” – photo by Stu Helm

What makes a sandwich a sandwich? Two pieces of bread is a good start. When it’s multigrain bread from Annie’s Bakery, as is the case with this sandwich, that’s a great start. Annie’s is a very reliable local baker, I always trust their bread, and it never lets me down. In between the bread, your typical sandwich will contain things like meat, veg, cheese, and condiments. If you wanna make it into something approaching the perfect sandwich, add bacon.

“Hi, it’s me, I’m back. I’m still perfect. You?” – photo by Stu Helm

Here’s what-all is in between the bread on the 67 Biltmore Chipotle Turkey Club: House-roasted turkey, applewood bacon, sharp cheddar cheese, avocado, mayonnaise, and Lusty Monk chipotle mustard. Yeah, that’s pure perfection, Baby. All fresh ingredients, grown, sourced, made, prepped, cooked, and placed in front of me by people I know, love, and willingly put my sandwichy fate into the hands of. They ain’t gonna leave me disappointed, or hungry.

So, yeah… sandwiches… good lord... I’ve ate a lot of them lately… including… this one…

The only things I didn’t eat in this picture were made of paper, metal, wood and colorful cellophane. – photo by Stu Helm

Also from 67 Biltmore Downtown Eatery + Catering, this festive little Shrimp Roll isn’t quite the show-boat or gut-buster that the Chipotle Turkey Club is, but, Boy Howdy, it sure is tasty! It’s pretty simple: 67’s creamy bay shrimp salad, with lettuce and tomato on a buttered Annie’s roll. I ate the fuck out of it.

The very next time I go into 67, I’m going order this fresh, yummy sandwich again, with a piece of corn bread on the side. Then I’m going to crumble the corn bread onto the sandwich. Ohhhh, yeahhhh, Maaaaan…. That’s gonna take me right back in time, to one of the best sandwiches I ever ate in my life, in Boston, Massachusetts, back in the 1980’s.

That nostalgia factor I often talk about is always there when we eat. It’s human nature! If something good reminds us of something else good, there’s automatically an 80% chance that it’s going to seem better. This sandwich reminds me of that other sandwich from Boston, and now I want to relive that sandwich through this one by altering this one slightly… in an effort to… capture a certain feeling… from a certain period of my life… it’s complicated… though I’m sure that each and every single person reading this report knows exactly what I’m talking about.

Sandwiches allow us to travel through time and space, right?!?

It’s basic science. #science

I believe in science, so in the name of science I shall continue to conduct my scientific study of sandwiches! Based on the data I’ve collected so far, there are — calculating… beep boop beep… carry the three… divide by seven — Answer: A FUCKING SHIT-TON of great sandwiches waiting for you out there, Asheville! Hunt ’em down, eat ’em up, and please contact me through my FaceBook page [ LINK ] if you would like to recommend a particular sandwich or sandwich maker for me to add to the list of venues I need to visit during my exhaustive 2017 sandwich survey AKA The Asheville Sandwich Report!

~ END ~

Pete’s Pies
“Gastropub serving traditional English comfort fare accompanied by local & imported brews.”
Address: 62 N Lexington Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Hours:
Sunday 11:30AM–9PM
Monday 11:30AM–9PM
Tuesday Closed
Wednesday 11:30AM–9PM
Thursday 11:30AM–9PM
Friday 11:30AM–9PM
Saturday 11:30AM–9PM
Phone: (828) 505-2708

Creperie Bouchon
“Serving crêpes, soups and salads plus cocktails, wine and beer. Includes menu, hours, location.”
Address: 68 N Lexington Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Hours:
Sunday 11AM–4PM
Monday 11AM–8PM
Tuesday 11AM–8PM
Wednesday 11AM–8PM
Thursday 11AM–8PM
Friday 11AM–9:30PM
Saturday 11AM–9:30PM
Phone: (828) 350-3741

Baba Nahm
“A grab and go Middle Eastern food place in Asheville NC.”
Address: 1 Page Ave #139, Asheville, NC 28801
Hours:
Sunday 11AM–9PM
Monday 11AM–9PM
Tuesday 11AM–9PM
Wednesday 11AM–9PM
Thursday 11AM–9PM
Friday 11AM–10PM
Saturday 11AM–10PM
Phone: (828) 575-2075

Cúrate
“Stylish eatery housed in a former 1927 bus depot offering elevated small plates, sherry & wine.”
Address: 13 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Hours:
Sunday 11:30AM–10:30PM
Monday Closed
Tuesday 11:30AM–10:30PM
Wednesday 11:30AM–10:30PM
Thursday 11:30AM–10:30PM
Friday 11:30AM–11PM
Saturday 11:30AM–11PM
Phone: (828) 239-2946

Vitamina T
“WNC food truck specializing in Yucatecan and Mexican street food.”

Bomba
“A Pop-up Gastropub”
Address: 1 N Pack Square, Asheville, NC 28801
Hours:
Sunday 9AM–4PM
Monday 9AM–4PM
Tuesday 9AM–4PM
Wednesday 9AM–4PM
Thursday 9AM–4PM
Friday 9AM–9PM
Saturday 9AM–9PM
Phone: (828) 254-0209

67 Biltmore Ave Downtown Eatery + Catering
“Downtown Asheville’s best Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner on Biltmore Avenue from 8 am to 6 pm Monday through Saturday. Offering Local and Gluten Free options.”
Address: 67 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Hours:
Sunday Closed
Monday 8AM–6PM
Tuesday 8AM–6PM
Wednesday 8AM–6PM
Thursday 8AM–6PM
Friday 8AM–6PM
Saturday 8AM–6PM
Phone: (828) 252-1500

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From left: Chef Jacob Sessoms of Table; Chef William Dissen, The Market Place; Chef Steven Goff, Standard Foods; Chef Katie Button, Curate; Chef Joe Scully, Chestnut and Corner Kitchen; Stu Helm; Chef John Fleer, Rhubarb; Chef Karen Donatelli, Donatelli Bakery; Chef Peter Pollay, Posana Cafe; and Chef Matt Dawes, Bull & Beggar./ Photo by STEWART O'SHIELDS for ASHVEGAS.COM
From left: Chef Jacob Sessoms of Table; Chef William Dissen, The Market Place; Chef Steven Goff, Standard Foods; Chef Katie Button, Curate; Chef Joe Scully, Chestnut and Corner Kitchen; Stu Helm; Chef John Fleer, Rhubarb; Chef Karen Donatelli, Donatelli Bakery; Chef Peter Pollay, Posana Cafe; and Chef Matt Dawes, Bull & Beggar./ Photo by STEWART O’SHIELDS for ASHVEGAS.COM

Stu Helm is an artist, writer, and podcaster living in Asheville, NC, and a frequent diner at local restaurants, cafes, food trucks, and the like. His tastes run from hot dogs and mac ‘n’ cheese, to haute cuisine, and his opinions are based on a lifetime of eating out. He began writing about food strictly to amuse his friends on Facebook.

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